Entries Tagged as 'Boston'

…a Landscape Show at Samson Projects

September 25th, 2007 · No Comments · Artists, Boston

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Julia Hechtman, Before the Fall, 2007, (video still), 2 min. single-channel video

Another standout Boston gallery, Samson Projects is the kind of confident-cool space that sends out press releases imploring the audience to “Go Outside!” instead of checking out their new landscape show, which is titled, with ironic accuracy, simply “… a landscape show.” Of course, this is no mere landscape show, but a savvy survey of the outside through the postmodern lens of 13 observant and analytical artists.

From Noriko Furunishi’s mash-up of a waterfall to Dan Torop’s achingly invasive Sprinkler, to Shay Kun’s couch-friendly landscapes with inappropriate killer whales and rescue helicopters and the elegant Alex Katz’s economic portraits of people and nature, this exhibition runs the gamut of contemporary interpretations on a very traditional theme.

Julia Hechtman’s prophetic video, Before the Fall, introduces the show, and with good reason. The artist in the corner of the television screen leads the viewer through a series of natural disasters, a thematic statement that provides just the right dose of relevancy to a show that could otherwise lean too heavily on beautiful imagery. Quoting again from the gallery statement, “The release of the elements as kitsch fodder? Is it necessary to elucidate more on the decorative aspects as well as the intelligent designer/ spiritual tenet?”

The only answer: see for yourself.

…a landscape show
September 7 – October 20
Samson Projects

Nancy Murphy Spicer at Bernard Toale Gallery

September 24th, 2007 · No Comments · Artists, Boston

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Nancy Murphy Spicer, Contents, contents of gallery storage space, 9’2”x27.5”, 2007

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Nancy Murphy Spicer, Hanging Drawings (20 Successive Drawings, Unique and Unrehearsed), (video still), stripped and plied friction tape, flashe, pins and 5 minute video, 11’7”x11’5.5”x5/16”, 2007

One of the most impressive shows we saw at the South End Open Studios in Boston was one that crept up on all of us. It was at Bernard Toale Gallery. Probably our friend Alison Owen said it first, while we were unknowingly standing the midst of the exhibition: something along the lines of I know this room is probably just being de-installed, but it’s my favorite thing we’ve seen all day.

Then the big reveal: it is exactly what we wanted it to be. In her witty and spatially sensitive show Provisional, Nancy Murphy Spicer emptied the contents of a gallery’s storage closet and arranged them with precision in a configuration that appears to be the haphazard work of an especially artful and OCD maintenance worker. Upon closer inspection, there’s some light paint work on one wall. A bad rush job covering up the plugged holes of an old exhibition? Nah. Even further examination shows that there’s some subtle refinishing on the floorboards too.

The dead giveaway, though, is the gridwork of nails jutting out on the opposite wall. A black loop of string rests on the nails in a graceful swoop. Should you be adventurous enough to explore your hunch that this is indeed a deliberate doing, you’ll find that deep within the emptied gallery closet is the key: a 5 minute video of the artist making “20 successive drawings” with the string on the nails. Bingo: hunch confirmed.

Yet, for me, the video was a bit of a disappointment of the kind you feel when someone spells out a joke, tells you why it’s funny. And seeing the artist there, animating the string into various shapes, was, to use an old writing critique, “too much telling.” Even so, the whole experience was a delight in a top-notch gallery not afraid to take risks. See it soon, because the show comes down this weekend.

Nancy Murphy Spicer, Provisional
Bernard Toale Gallery
August 28 – September 29, 2007

Additional bonus: if you ask, you might be invited back to the office to see one of my favorite photographs by Laura McPhee, Rocks from Sawtooth National Forest for Landscaping in Sun Valley, Pettit Lake Road, Blaine County, Idaho, 2003 from her show at the MFA last year.

Arthur Ganson at the MIT Museum

September 21st, 2007 · 2 Comments · Artists, Boston

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Arthur Ganson, title and date unavailable

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Arthur Ganson, Machine with Wishbone, date unavailable

MIT’s Sculpture of Arthur Ganson exhibition is one of the best shows I’ve seen all year, in part because I was expecting to see a robotics exhibition that turned out to be fine art, and in part because Ganson’s antics float in that extremely rare space of being technically bewildering while simultaneously poetic.

Seen above: tenderly engineered, hand-crafted machines allow a chair to dance on top of a rock, a cat be smacked by another chair and a wishbone (as in chicken) to walk down a track. In each work the movement is precise and smooth, the obvious result of much labor and thought. The mechanics are not “the usual mechanics” either: each mechanical intersection begs consideration.

Ganson is an engineer’s engineer.

The bar is now raised for kinetic sculpture. Each artwork — and their are approximately 20 in the room — holds you 10 times longer than usual and keeps you coming back to look all over again.

Kinetic sculptors: it’ time to buy a ticket to Boston. Exhibition is “ongoing.”


Arthur Ganson, title and date unavailable

ICA in Boston

August 27th, 2007 · No Comments · Artists, Boston

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This room hangs below the museum (see above).

The Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston’s new building by glow-in-the-dark architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, as well as their current all-star line-up of exhibitions make the ICA an uncommon afternoon delight.

Additionally, their typography makes my socks whiter.

Current exhibitions include Philip-Lorca diCorcia (ends soon: Sept 3), Louise Bourgeois, Dave McKenzie (ends Oct 28) and Accumulations, the second installation of the ICA’s permanent collection. Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s images are stunning, Bourgeois is Bourgeois, McKenzie avoids any real risk and Accumulations has at least one thing you’ll hate and one thing you’ll love.

Ericson and Ziegler at MIT

March 1st, 2006 · Comments Off · Artists, Boston

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America Starts Here: Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler, curated by Bill Arning and Ian Berry, MIT List Visual Arts Center

Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler, through their collaboration and research-based approach to art-making, have been a large influence on our work. Mel, a member of my graduate committee, has shaped many of my strategies. This show is a celebration, although here is a less-biased review.

Boston Tour: Gehry at MIT

February 28th, 2006 · Comments Off · Artists, Boston, Writing

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I was walking through MIT’s campus and stumbled onto Frank Gehry’s Stata Center. I forgot this was here and was pleasantly surprised. Although an engineering professor I met thinks of it as a “$250 million water leaker with less usable space than the new $47 [million] building next to it,” I don’t quite remember the more efficient building he was referring to.

Museum of Fine Art, Boston

February 27th, 2006 · Comments Off · Boston

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Tourist images of the institution. Their SMFA Traveling Scholars exhibition is worth the trip alone.